Dr. Susan Pelle
English Composition 115
Summary and Personal response to Russell Baker’s, “On Becoming a Writer”.
Russell Baker noted journalist and winner of two Pulitzer prizes uses the Rhetorical and Figurative uses of language in the excerpted passage, “On Becoming a Writer” from Baker’s Pulitzer winning memoirs “ Growing Up,” where Baker gives compelling accounts of his teen years. Baker relates the experiences of his life and the family bonds that facilitated the dream of becoming a writer.
Baker shares with us the story of a teen faced with the challenges of trying to sell magazines and coming to terms with not being a salesman. Baker is given an assignment by Mr. Fleagle his eleventh grade English teacher, whom baker says, “To me he looked to be sixty or seventy and prim to a fault.” (p66/3/6-7) Inspired by the memories of a night the whole family was seated at the supper table eating spaghetti. Baker began to write “The Art of Eating Spaghetti,” in which Mr. Fleagle had given Baker an “A” providing the idea of becoming a writer.
Baker uses a combination of the Figurative language to engage his audience with the use of a simile and alliteration in the second paragraph,
“I hated the assignments to turn out “compositions,” and went at them like heavy labor, turning out leaden, lackluster paragraphs that were agonies for teachers to read and for me to write.” (P66/2/7-9) Here Baker uses a simile to compare the burden of writing a composition to heavy labor and paragraphs that were a pain to read, while keeping the reader engage with the use of alliteration. Notice in lines 8-9, “……and went at them like heavy labor, turning out leaden, lackluster paragraphs…” (p66/2/8-9) adding the repetitious consonant sound of the “L”.